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How Many Dropouts?: A report by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washingtonbased think tank, calls the U.S. dropout problem "grossly exaggerated'' and concludes that most federal funding for dropout prevention is unnecessary. The commonly cited 30 percent dropout rate is misleading, the report says, because it fails to account for adults over age 20 who return to school for a high school equivalency diploma. When such adults are counted, about 87 percent of Americans complete high school, or its equivalent, by age 24.

-Jeffrey Porro

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